GGS309 Spring 2017
Introduction to Weather and Climate


Course Information
Title: Introduction to Weather and Climate(GGS 309)
CRN: 13134
Time:  1:30pm-4:10pm, Thursdays, 01/23-05/17/2017
Location: Exploratory Hall 2312
Instructor: Prof. John J. Qu
Teaching Assistant: Mr. Min Shao
Telephone: (703) 993-3958
Office: Room 3411, Exploratory Hall
Office Hour: Stop by 10:00-12:00PM Thursdays or make appointment

Office Hours: Stop by at 10:00 AM -12:00 PM on Thursdays or make appointment

Course Description

This course will introduce the students to the fundamental principles upon which the atmosphere and climate sciences are based and to provide quantitative description and interpretation of the wide range of atmospheric observing the atmosphere phenomena with an emphasis on sub-synoptic scales (i.e. weather and regional scale climate). This course engages students with real-world examples and a captivating narrative. One of the main goals of this course is not only to provide the basic knowledge of fundamentals of the weather and climate, but also to prepare students for the science of atmospheric modeling and simulations. This course is designed for both science majors and non-majors taking their first course in weather and climate sciences.

Prerequisites: MATH 214 and PHYS 262, or permission of instructor.


Week one: 01/26 Introduction to the Atmosphere and Climate Science
Week two 02/02 The Energy Cycle
Chapter two, Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation
Week three 02/09 Temperature
Week four 02/16 Water in the Atmosphere
Quiz One
Week five 02/23 Observing the Atmosphere
Week six 03/02 Atmospheric Forces and Wind
Midterm Review
Quiz Two
Week seven 03/09 Global and Small Scale Winds     [PPT1]     [PPT2]
Week eight 03/16 Spring break
Week nine 03/23 Atmosphere-Ocean Interactions: El Niño and Tropical Cyclones
Week ten 03/30 Air Masses and Fronts
Quiz Three
Week eleven 04/06 Extratropical Cyclones and Anticyclones
Week twelve 04/13 Thunderstorms and Tornadoes
Week thirteen 04/20 Weather and Climate Forecasting PPT1     PPT2
Homework 3-4
Week fourteen 04/27 Past and Present Climates
Quiz Four
Week fifteen 05/04 Human Influences on Climate
Climate Change - Natural and Anthropogenic Causes
Final Exam Summary
Week sixteen 05/11 Final Exam


  • Class attending: 5%
  • Quizes: 20%
  • Homework: 20%
  • Midterm: 25%
  • Final Exam: 30%
  •        (A=90-100, B=80-89, C=70-79, D=60-69, F=<60)


    1. Required Textbook: “Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere”, Fourth Edition, by Steven A. Ackerman and John A. Knox 2014, Jones & Bartlett Learning (2014), ISBN 978-1-284-02737-2 (paperback edition), 575 pages.
    2. Reference book:"Climatology", By Robert V. Rohli, Anthony J. Vega, Jones & Bartlett Learning (2011), Paperback - 432 pages - ISBN 0763791016

    Honor code

    Students must follow the GMU Scholastic Honor Code. Please show respects to everyone in the classroom. Copying homework (or quiz) is considered cheating.

    Useful Links

    1. WMO
    2. NOAA/CDC
    3. NOAA/NCDC
    4. IPCC
    5. Climate Conference in Copenhagen, 2009
    6. COP21
    7. Climate Change Science Compendium 2009 by UNEP
    8. Global Weather Maps